RAFAEL JORBA | 30 OCTOBER 2020
It is wrong for me to say it, but writing this article about the symbolic universe of the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation (CCMA) produces infinite fear in me. And not because this fundamental question to understand how the story of the process has been built does not interest me, but because I think that I have practically already said everything that I could say. Those politicians and analysts who are tearing their clothes at this point in the face of the pro-independence drift of the public media under the Generalitat’s jurisdiction have been late: either they were blind in the past or now they display notable doses of cynicism.
Long before the process began formally, in my years as head of pluralism at the Catalan Audiovisual Council (CAC), I had warned about the nationalist bias of Catalan public radio and television, and I had done so, in public and in private, in frank conversation with those responsible, notable professionals of the trade. I had also shown my disagreement with a core issue of Law 22/2005, of December 29, on audiovisual communication in Catalonia. Specifically, the differentiation it makes on “the public service under the jurisdiction of the Generalitat” -TV3 and Catalunya Radio- and “the local audiovisual public service”, historically structured through the Diputación de Barcelona, with the result of a lack of global vision of the country and a deficit of territorial pluralism in the TVC. However, this is entirely another matter.
More nationalist than national
As a result of that four-year experience at the CAC (2006-2010), I arranged my reflections in one of the chapters of the book The Other’s Look. Manifesto for otherness (RBA, 2011). I reproduce them now, without removing or adding anything, because they have the value of having been made before the process formally began with the call for early elections by Artur Mas, in autumn 2012, in order to achieve a «majority exceptional “in Parliament and with the bait of making reality” the will of a people “that he demanded from his electoral poster. It should be remembered that that failed operation was the beginning of the political descent of the then president before in January 2016 the CUP sent it “to the trash of history.” Here is the literality of that analysis carried out in 2011 from a certain idea of Catalonia and Spain: Catalanism with federal roots.
It is about a worldview that colonizes the grill, the news to fiction through sports.
«I neither feel hostage to the politically correct thinking of Spanish neo-nationalism nor to the nationally correct thinking of the so-called Catalan sovereignty. My defense of otherness begins with Catalonia within. For example, in the last four years I have not tired of expressing, in public and in private, my disagreement with a worldview and a symbolic universe, it is the paradigm of Television of Catalonia (TVC), which transversally colonizes programming, from news to news fiction passing through sports, and that also permeates their language. This paradigm responds more to the model of a nationalist television than to that of a national television, that is, one that reflects the entire plurality of Catalan society. »
An endogamous ‘star system’
“A public television -and this reflection is also valid for TVE- must use a wide angle to project the social, cultural, linguistic, territorial, religious plurality … of the citizens it serves. From this point of view, I am a firm supporter of enriching the symbolic universe, the nationalist benchmark of TVC, with other realities: from federalist Catalanism to those that claim to be partisans of constitutional autonomy. It is not about reducing, or even less about banning, the current nationalist worldview, but only about adding other visions and expanding the referential horizons (…) The problem is that this sovereign symbolic universe, with an endogamous star system that shines also in the radio and the written press, it does not correspond to the Catalan social majority, much more plural, complex and polyhedral. »
A public television must use a wide angle to project the plurality of citizens.
«At the risk of swimming against the current, I will say out loud that independence is not a dream or a nightmare for me, but a mirage. It is a dream for all those who, legitimately, see in the independence option the new frontier of political nationalism and actively work to achieve it. And it is a nightmare for many other citizens of Catalonia, with multiple identity feelings, for whom independence does not represent only a political fracture but also an emotional dismemberment. »
“Independence is for me a mirage for objective reasons and for ideological commitment. Among the former, the lack of a social and political majority to support it, the context of European interdependencies and the global challenges of the 21st century. And, among the second, my desire to overcome the canons of the eight hundred to articulate a new framework of shared citizenships, respectful of identity feelings, in which no one ever has to impose on the other an identity in the singular: not even 51% of the population against 49% or vice versa. Because it is not a question of having to choose between the two souls of Catalonia, but of understanding that a plurality of feelings beats in the Catalan soul and of building a collective project that knows how to integrate them. »
The missions of the public service
Here is the definition of the symbolic universe that in the Catalan public radio and television space was feeding the political narrative of the process. I have also added the fears that overwhelmed me at the time and that the reality of the last decade has far exceeded: the progressive emergence of a Catalonia tied with itself, strained by the emotional axis and unable to articulate both government action and the task of opposition. It should be said that responsibilities are shared. The first and foremost is from the political forces. However, the managers -and the professionals- of the public media of the CCMA also have their share of responsibility: to have served the missions of the public service established by the Law of audiovisual communication and, in particular, the “specific missions” that set article 26.3. In I will remember only a few:
-The promotion of knowledge and respect for the values and principles contained in the Spanish Constitution, the Statute of Autonomy, original community law and international treaties.
- The transmission of truthful, objective and balanced information, respectful of political, social and cultural pluralism, and also of territorial balance.
- The active promotion of civic coexistence, the plural and democratic development of society, knowledge and respect for the various options and political, social, linguistic, cultural and religious manifestations present in the territory of Catalonia. In this context, it is necessary to use all languages, formats and discourses that, while respecting and paying attention to diversity and pluralism, allow dialogue, understanding and cohesion between the various options, and between the various areas of the territory of Catalonia.
- The reinforcement of the national identity as an integrating process, in constant evolution and open to diversity.
From this perspective, it is clear that the broadcasts of TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio have not only screeched, but have often stepped on the red line, especially in terms of respect for diversity and pluralism, and in promoting dialogue and cohesion between the various options and territories in Catalonia. Responsibilities, by action and omission, are distributed: from the direct responsibility of the managers of these media to the inaction of the CAC, the regulatory body entrusted with the task of ensuring compliance with the CCMA’s public service missions. However, the drift of the last decade is part of a background current that began with the presidency of Jordi Pujol (1980-2003) and which continued to grow during the tripartite governments (2003-2010).
Two paradigmatic cases
From this point of view, I will put a couple of examples to illustrate, in the field of quantitative and qualitative analysis, how the symbolic universe of TVC was forging. These are two paradigmatic cases that I had to examine in my time as head of pluralism at the CAC, with the assistance of the other members of the Content Area and the analysis of technical services.
The first case, with quantitative data, is included in Report 9/2009 on the observance of political pluralism on television and radio. I will specifically mention the information from TV3 regarding the holding of the consultation on the independence of Catalonia in Arenys de Munt on September 13, 2009. Regarding the news time, the duration of this item throughout the month of September was 1h 9’46 ”, ahead of the information about the Diada (33’03 ”) and the General Policy Debate of the Parliament (28’44 ”). It is not difficult to conclude, with these data on the table, that the pilot experience of Arenys de Munt’s office found its resonance box on TV3.
The second case, of qualitative scope, is dealt with in Report 90/2007 on the analysis of the documentary Terra Lliure, full stop, broadcast on April 14 of that year by the program El Documental, on channel 33. the CAC, from the data in the report, he sent Joan Majó, then director general of the CCMA, the following considerations: «1. The voice over story is an inter-story, that is, it uses the same language as the actors and witnesses. He talks about armed actions and not attacks, activists and not terrorists, of armed independence and not terrorism. 2. The majority of political witnesses belong to the same ideological sector. There is, therefore, a lack of plurality of views and opinions. 3. There is no adequate representation of the victims. 4. In summary, the sources of information are insufficient and biased, and the journalistic edition of the report has deficiencies in terms of the public service missions of the TVC. »Just a collateral fact: the documentary was directed by David Bassa, at this point head of TVC News.
There are, in short, two quite illustrative cases of a symbolic universe of TV3 that transversely soaks the entire grid, starting with the weather map. I want to insist on a fact that is often forgotten: this happened during the years of the tripartite governments. At that time, the Socialists presided over the Generalitat (Montilla) and promoted the country’s economy (Castells) and its infrastructures (Christmas). However, the story, that is, the culture and the media were in the hands of ERC (Tresserras). Hence the creature cries. final article.